Friday, April 8

The Murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer Khamis HeadshotImage via Wikipedia
Actor and director, Juliano Mer-Khamis-the son of a Jewish mother and a Christian Arab father was murdered by Palestinian terrorists on Monday April 4th 2011. He was shot 5 times at point blank range in his car in Jenin on the West Bank.

Juliano was a very talented actor and producer. His future in acting and directing was assured. However, he felt that his place was in Jenin in the West Bank working with young Palestinian children and youth. He established the Freedom Theater and continued his mother, Arna Mer-Khamis's legacy, in teaching Palestinians to act as well as the culture of acting in order to help them come to terms with the Israeli occupation.

Jule, as the Palestinians called him, was very devoted to the Palestinian cause. His mother was Jewish and his father was a Christian Arab from Nazareth. He viewed himself as 100% Jewish and 100% Palestinian.

Jule was a rare mix and a man of peace. He hated the occupation because of what it has done to both Israelis and Palestinians. He believed that the occupation is immoral.

He had no sympathy for the settlers nor did he have anything in common with extremist Palestinian ideology. Perhaps this is the reason why he was assassinated. He was different!

He taught acting skills to the Palestinian youth. He seemed to be admired and loved by all. Apparently this is not entirely correct. He was a freethinking progressive humanist believing in coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

Today the Arab people in the Middle East are fighting for democracy and human rights in their society as well as equality before the law. As mentioned in my previous articles, the Arab uprising is not about Israel which has always been a uniting factor in the Arab world. The Arab dictators had always kept the fire of hate for Israel as a mantra to maintain their own stability and to oppress their own people.

The Arab uprisings against their own ruthless dictatorships are part of the process for democracy and human freedom.

If this is the case, their message has not reached Palestine in its entirety. There are still Islamic extremists in Palestinian society that are using the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as a mantra to maintain a semblance of unity. This unity serves the extremists in Palestinian society – the hate for Israel which had been common place since its establishment in 1948 and which is manipulated by Hamas and its terrorist allies. As far as they are concerned Israel is occupied territory.

Jule was part of the spirit of equality, human rights and democracy. He was the embodiment of freedom, progress as well as equality of the sexes.

Despite all positive qualities that he had and the Freedom Theater that he had established, there are still hard core conservatives in Palestinian society that wished his death. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their extremist Islamic allies are groups that are against Palestinian progress. They still hold much power especially in Gaza and it is difficult to assess their power in the West Bank. Jule was a thorn in their flesh. He had been subjected to death threats and even his Freedom Theater was vandalized. Jule's progressive ideology was too much for them. He paid the ultimate price by being murdered in cold blood. He had imbued his students with freedom and equality. This was in keeping with the spirit of the Arab arising but not in keeping with Hamas and their extremist ideologues.

He was loved by all peace people - Palestinians and Israelis. Maybe his mixed identity was not what the racist Islamic groups in Palestinian society wanted. They viewed him as a threat to their potential hegemony and murdered him.

This tragedy is a loss to both Palestinians and Israelis who believe in peace, coexistence, democracy and human rights.

Apart from sporadic condemnation for his tragic assassination, the left in Israel has remained relatively silent. If he had been murdered by Jewish extremists, the left would have been stronger in their condemnation. It seems as if Palestinian extremists have poetic license to kill even a true democrat on their side. It will take a long time, if ever, before the spirit of the Arab uprising reaches the hardcore religious extremists in Palestine with their vitriol towards those who are different. The Israeli occupation is blamed for almost everything even if it is the fault of the Hamas regime itself. The murder of Jule emphasizes this fact and it rings true today.

Here was a man of mixed Palestinian-Israeli blood that tried his best to build bridges of peace between the two peoples. Instead Palestinian racist extremists felt it their duty to spill his blood because of their bloodlust directed at those who are different.

It seems that all peacemakers, irrespective of whether they are Palestinians or Israelis, are under threat from Hamas and their extremist factions.

We must not allow their evil ideology of racism and hate to move us from the sacred cause of democracy, tolerance, peace and coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. We must also support the fight for democracy and freedom in the Middle East. This would be the best way that we could honour this incredible man.

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1 comment:

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb said...

For an alternative perspective, seeing Mer - Khamis from the point of view of his work, see